Weekly Devotional: Acts 4:19-20


But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” —Acts 4:19-20

Sometimes family devotions can get derailed from one word, one sentence, one letter. For example, the other night as our family has been reading a chapter of Acts after dinner a few times a week, we came to chapter 4 of the book of Acts.

A truly glorious chapter of Peter and John standing before rulers and authorities giving testimony of the work of Christ and his death and resurrection. Courage in the midst of daunting political pressure and personal cost.

I was trying to show them the beauty of the connection between Acts 4 and the gathered church praying and praising God as they were meditating on Psalm 2 (Acts 4:23-31).

Sometimes I have each of my kids read a portion of the text so they get used to reading the Scripture out loud and to others. Well, as my child was reading they came to verse 19 and 20 of Acts 4, which reads, 'But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”'

As the child was reading out loud, they missed the word ‘but’ in the middle of the passage: "...for we cannot speak of what we have seen and heard." The reading completely changed the verse to say the opposite of what was said. I thought to myself, “they need to understand that the ‘but’ completely changes everything in that sentence.”

After the full passage was completed, I gently corrected the reading and said to my child, “I think you missed a word or phrase in the reading, because I think the sentence reads that they couldn’t help ‘…but speak of what we have seen and heard.

Well, unbeknownst to me and my enunciation, my children instantaneously roared in undeterred hilarity, as you might expect a classroom of 6 to 13-year old’s might do when they hear the phrase ‘but speak…’. They didn’t hear “…but speak’ they heard “BUTT SPEAK.”

Well, all semblance of devotional time more or less ended there for the night at that moment of boisterous laughter.

I was internally conflicted. Do I laugh with my children or try to draw them back to see the beauty of chapter 4 and the timeless truth of the glory of Christ? Do I try to draw it back in and show them the Spirit-birthed boldness in the life of Peter and John? Or do I laugh with them and enjoy the moment?

We laughed.

A few things I needed reminding of after a seeming failure of a family devotional time:

  1. Consistency is forming – When we do family devotionals it isn’t that my kids are ever going to remember one specific family devotional time. When they themselves are older and leading and shepherding their own families, they are going to remember what the consistent habits were (or lack thereof). So even ‘seemingly lame’ devotional times help shape our children to know what we love and prioritize in our homes.
  2. It is good to laugh – There are times when life is just plain funny. My tendency would likely be to err too much on the side of seriousness, and it is good for our kids to see us laugh.
  3. Kids want to be and need to be involved – Having my child read was forming, stretching and challenging in a way that merely sitting and passively listening didn’t require. They need opportunities in a safe environment to do so and no better place than around the table as a family.

Keep reading with your family, keep having devotions with your family – and keep laughing with your family.